England vs South Africa Rugby World Cup final talking points
Follow our live blog as England face South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama on Saturday (kick-off: 9am)
By Michael Cantillon in Tokyo
Last Updated: 02/11/19 8:56am
From increased expectancy to the return of Cheslin Kolbe and a vital set-piece battle, here's our comprehensive preview of Saturday's World Cup final between England and South Africa in Yokohama...
Hunter becomes the hunted?
Ahead of England's mammoth semi-final with New Zealand last week, they were firm underdogs. And they were so because of the brand and style of attacking rugby the All Blacks had produced.
In response, Eddie Jones' charges produced one of the greatest England performances of all time, clinching a spectacular 19-7 victory. But after the comedown from such a high, pressure arrives.
Under the radar last week, England's players are firmly in the spotlight this, particularly after South Africa's semi-final with Wales a day later failed to live up to the same standard.
There is a vastly different pressure coming into a game most expect you to win rather than hope you do, and the challenge on England is to make sure outside noise and expectation doesn't negatively affect them.
Repeating a performance of such physicality and accuracy is difficult at the best of times, while the Boks won't be wanting for belief and will much prefer coming into the final with less chatter around them.
The hunter could yet become the hunted if England are not careful.
The Kolbe factor
Within South Africa's 19-16 semi-final victory over Wales, there was a distinct lack of creativity.
Boot to ball, attritional defence and set-piece power were the ingredients of the Springbok win.
One man they were missing was superb wing Cheslin Kolbe - absent with an ankle knock, but one of the standout players of the World Cup.
His ability to step, jink and accelerate into space, or finish in tight situations is of the highest class. And for Saturday's final, he's back in the starting team.
One thing is for sure, even if South Africa adopt a similar approach to their semi-final win, Kolbe will spark creativity - even if just through brief individual moments of brilliance.
He is the key man England must look out for when defending - he's capable of turning a Test or winning one with his ability.
Heading into any Test match - or high level rugby game for that matter - of significance, the set-piece battle and forward domination is almost always pivotal.
On Saturday, however, the scrum and lineout is even more likely to be the central area of game-turning moments.
The Springboks have built everything off set-piece, and it's a facet to the game they have thrived in while out in Japan.
Rassie Erasmus' men have the best lineout in the World Cup so far, losing just one, while they also use it as the platform from which to unleash their most potent weapon at this tournament: the rolling maul.
Against Japan in the quarter-finals, a loose game was tightened up by South Africa in the second half before they mauled the Brave Blossoms into the ground. Their semi-final win over Wales also firmly rooted in maul and scrum ascendancy.
By contrast, even though it functioned supremely well last week against New Zealand, England have lost six lineouts.
Both sides have competed brilliantly at the scrum and are level in terms of success rates on 94 per cent: England having lost two from 33, South Africa losing two from 36.
If one side can get an angle up or force a decision from referee Jerome Garces, they would profit not just psychologically, but through territory gains too.
Lineout solidity, maul defence and scrums are absolute imperatives for Saturday.
The curse of semi-final finals?
Whether in jest or not, in the aftermath of Wales' late semi-final defeat to South Africa last week, Warren Gatland - when asked if SA could go on to win it - referenced the fact that many a side have won semi-finals in thrilling fashion before losing a week later.
A throwaway comment in relation to England it may have been, but Gatland had a point.
Throughout the years in the Rugby World Cup, several nations have performed magnificently in the last four, before failing to hit the same heights in the final. They've been said almost to have played their final in the semi-finals.
At the first World Cup in 1987, France took on pre-tournament favourites Australia in Sydney for a place in the final, and despite falling 9-0, 15-12 and 24-21 behind throughout the Test, they kept fighting back before sealing the game in the dying stages courtesy of a magnificent Serge Blanco try. A week later, they lost an anti-climactic final 29-9 to New Zealand.
In 1995, the All Blacks blew the doors off the hinges of everybody they faced, including annihilating England 45-29 in the semi-finals in a remarkable display which included four tries from the late, rampaging Jonah Lomu. In the final against the hosts South Africa a week on, they failed to score a try in a 15-12 loss to a Joel Stransky extra-time drop-goal.
In 1999, France pulled off one of the greatest shocks in sporting history to dump out hot favourites New Zealand at Twickenham, recovering from 14 points down to romp to 43-31 after one of the greatest Tests of rugby ever played. But a week later, they didn't have it in them to reproduce such a display, succumbing 35-12 to Australia.
And in 2003, hosts Australia - coached by England's Jones - knocked out the All Blacks in stunning fashion at the semi-final stage before failing to reach the same levels in defeat to England in the final.
The warning signs are there for Jones and co.
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
South Africa: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.